Cano Cristales

Cano Cristales
Source: Photographer: Mario Carvajal


Cano Cristales is the name of an extraordinary river in Colombia. This unique river is located within the province of Meta. It is also often referred to as the Liquid Rainbow and the River of Five Colors. Many individuals consider Cano Cristales to be the most beautiful river on earth. The reason is the fact that the river presents five separate colors! For approximately half of the year, only four colors are seen. During the other half of the year, the fifth color is seen as well.  The colors presented are green, yellow, blue, black, and red.


Cano Cristales

Cano Cristales Unique Geology

Much of the riverbed of Cano Cristales is covered with rocks composed of quartzite. These rocks are the source of the four colors present in the river year round. These stones are part of the Serraina de la Macarenia tableland. This formation formed approximately 1.2 billion years ago. These comprise some of the oldest exposed rocks known to man. Cano Cristales is an extremely fast flowing river. It possesses numerous waterfalls and rapids. Many deep cavities have been carved in the geology of the river bed.


Cano Cristales
Source: Photographer: Jaime Ramos Zambrano

Cano Cristales Flora and Fauna

Cano Cristales is bordered by three large ecosystems. These are the Eastern Llanos, the Andes, and the Amazon rainforest. Each of these contributes its own high diversity of flora and fauna to the river. One of these is the source of the fifth color in the river. This is the aquatic plant: Macarenia clavigera. It blooms in vast quantities on the rocks on the riverbed, and is bright red in color. The predominant biome of Cano Cristales is a hydrophytic rainforest. The surrounding region is home to 420 known species of birds, 43 species of reptiles, 8 primates, and 420 avian species.


Todd Sain Sr.

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